It’s a plan that will shape how the City of Ottawa promotes and cares for its trees for the next 20 years, and these public meetings are an opportunity for you to learn more and provide input. The Urban Forest Management Plan is a whopping 265 pages but it’s summed up nicely in a 10 page executive summary. If you care about trees in your neighbourhood, sign up to attend – ask questions, learn more, help shape the plan.
Ecology Ottawa is still working on our input into the process, but our initial assessment can be summed up in two ways. On the one hand, the plan is a potential game changer for how we take care of trees in Ottawa. It represents the kind of thoughtful, long-term and holistic approach to the issue that we really need. The City of Ottawa could finally have an integrated Urban Forest Management Plan and we should voice our strong support for this kind of big picture thinking.
On the other hand, it’s not at all clear how this will make a difference in your neighbourhood over the next four years. The plan itself is broken up into five periods of four years each, and the first period doesn’t seem to have any major investments built into it. Instead, the City is committing in the short term to prepare more studies and adopt more policies. There is no doubt that these are important studies and policies, but we need more than a “plan to plan”. City staff, councillors and the Mayor need to be able to give you a clear and compelling answer to the following question: How will my neighbourhood be different in four years thanks to this plan?
You can sign-up to attend the public consultations here. Signing up is a little bit complicated but stick with it, you’ll learn a lot from the public open house and your voice is important.